Narcissus cyclamineus

Everyone will have grown or known many different daffodils. Even the gardening beginner has surely at some time nurtured a ‘Paper White’ narcissus in a pot. Some have seen our native daffodil, Narcissus pseudo-narcissus, by the lakes in the Wordsworth country, and all have bought daffodils in green bud in winter and watched them slowly open to cheer up the room.

There are so many daffodils being grown today — literally thousands of varieties – that it is impossible to treat them in depth.

All I can do in my space is to choose my favourite kind of narcissus, which is known unromantically as the ‘Cyclamineus Division’, that is, a group of narcissi with laid-back petals, like those of a cyclamen, round a longish, trumpet- shaped cup. On the small side, these narcissi have a grace denied to the large-flowered giants, and they lend themselves well to naturalizing, which is what daffodils were born for. Two of the loveliest of this kind are ‘February Gold’ and ‘Dove Wings’. The former has a frilled golden trumpet and reflexed petals of the same colour, and flowers early. ‘Dove Wings’ looks gentle and demure with a pale lemon cup and white petals.

Both are 12 inches (30 cm) tall. Another interesting variety in the same group, also early and good for naturalizing, is ‘Peeping Tom’, with an exceptionally long, narrow golden trumpet.

There are also some tiny cyclamineus narcissi for the rock garden or for pots and window-boxes in a town garden, of which Tete-a-Tete’ is irresistible.

For naturalizing, plant daffodils in woodland soil or in grass in sun or light shade in holes three times the depth of the bulb, and I know no better way of achieving a random look than that told me by an old countryman when I was a child: Throw them in the air and plant them where they fall.’

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